Quantcast

2015: A Banner Year for Solar Energy

Insights + Opinion

This year will go down as a banner year for solar energy. We expect new solar installations to reach a record-breaking 7.4 gigawatts (GW) by year's end. And yet, the 2015 record is already looking like a distant memory compared to what is to come.

America's solar boom is far from busting. In fact, solar will more than triple in size from just more than 24 GW of total capacity to nearly 100 GW by 2020. By that point, there will be enough solar installed to power 20 million American homes.

The more rapid growth is projected because solar companies have received and will continue to receive reliable and supportive federal policies. These allow them to mature, employ hundreds of thousands of American workers and pump billions of dollars in new investments into the American economy along the way.

New Solar Era

Sustained growth for one of America's newest and most cutting-edge industries was solidified last week when Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill. This seemingly routine legislation is historic because it brings the solar industry to the forefront of the conversation about American energy.

Photo credit: SEIA

Instead of the solar investment tax credit (ITC) dropping down to 10 percent for commercial users and zero for residential users at the end of 2016, Congress took action that will help solar drive America toward its clean energy future.

The bill included modifications to the tax code that extended both the residential and commercial sections of the ITC. Specifically, there is a long-term extension for both residential and commercial solar users with a gradual phase down over the next five years, as well as a permanent 10 percent tax credit for commercial users.

ITC Extension and Phase Down Schedule

  • 2017: 30 percent
  • 2018: 30 percent
  • 2019: 30 percent
  • 2020: 26 percent
  • 2021: 22 percent
  • 2022 and beyond: permanent 10 percent for commercial credit

For the first time, the legislation also allows for users to claim the credit when construction of their projects begins as long as the projects are placed in service by Dec. 31, 2023.

The Industry Took Action With ITC

This powerful victory would not have been possible without the industry calling on Congress to stand with solar and the American people.

At SEIA's urging, Americans sent nearly 35,000 letters and made countless phone calls to their representatives in Congress, and industry leaders published nearly 100 columns and letters in community newspapers throughout the country.

The solar industry now has a seat at the table with the nation's major electricity producers and it will continue to power more and more of America for years to come.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Wind Power in U.S. Hits New Milestone: Enough Energy to Power 19 Million Homes

World's First Off-Grid EcoCapsule Runs Entirely on Renewable Energy

Mark Ruffalo: The Renewable Energy Race Is On

3 Communities Transition Away From Fossil Fuels to Run on 100% Renewables

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Yulia Lisitsa / iStock / Getty Images

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many people follow the lacto-vegetarian diet for its flexibility and health benefits.

Read More Show Less

By Jared Kaufman

Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Healthline

Made from the freshly sprouted leaves of Triticum aestivum, wheatgrass is known for its nutrient-dense and powerful antioxidant properties.

Read More Show Less

mevans / E+ / Getty Images

The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef issued an unprecedented statement that broke ranks with Australia's conservative government and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A powerful earthquake struck near Athens, Greece and shook the capital city for 15 seconds on Friday, causing people to run into the streets to escape the threat of falling buildings, NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
U.S. government scientists concluded in a new report that last month was the hottest June on record. Angelo Juan Ramos / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less
Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

By John R. Platt

For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.

Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.

Read More Show Less